A neurostimulator is a device which is implanted near the spinal cord or a peripheral nerve. The device uses small electrical impulses to interrupt pain signals sent to the brain. In people with chronic pain who use neurostimulation as a treatment, instead of feeling pain they will experience a tingling sensation. Neurostimulation is generally only recommended as a treatment option when other measures for pain management have failed.
A neuro-stimulator trial involves the physician placing two small wires (leads) through the skin and close to the nerves that are sensing pain. One end of the wires remain temporarily implanted and a small external pulse generator is connected to the other end of the wires, outside the body. The nerve area receives electrical stimulation during a 3-day testing period, after which the patient returns to the center, the leads are removed and the trial’s results assessed. The implant procedure takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and is performed under monitored anesthesia care. Once the trial has ended, the removal of the trial leads only takes a moment.
Permanent Neuro-Stimulator Implant
Following a successful Neuro-Stimulator trial (when 50% or greater pain relief is achieved) the patient may choose to proceed with a permanent implant. Several kinds of spinal cord stimulation systems are available. Most of the newer devices feature a rechargeable pulse generator system that can be easily charged through the skin. However, there are some pulse generators that do not require recharging but last a shorter time before they need to get replaced. A neuro-stimulator system implantation involves the physician making a small incision and placing two small wires (leads) close to the nerves that are sensing pain. These wires are held in place using a surgical anchoring device. A second incision is made and the other end of the wires are tunneled under the skin and are placed into the permanently implanted stimulation generator. The implant procedure takes approximately one hour to complete and is performed under monitored anesthesia care. Approximately 10 days following the implant procedure, the patient will return to the center to have the incisions assessed and staples removed.